Benllech Shells

Andrew Lewis

  • Year of composition: 2003
  • Duration: 8:33
  • Instrumentation: stereo fixed medium
  • Publisher(s): Ymx média
  • ISWC: T0115501024


ISRC CAD500722650

  • 96 kHz, 24 bits

To Esme

“High summer, a crowded, baking beach. Noise, movement, ice cream, diesel. Children and adults alike are drawn to the foaming shore, melodious squeals and cries bobbing up momentarily through the noise of the surf. Away from the water families stake their claim with colourful fortifications: parents bask and sweat, little ones search the sand. ‘I’ve found a shell…’ The child’s eyes and ears collect her future memories. ‘We could save this shell…’” (Benllech, Isle of Anglesey, North Wales, July and August 2003)

Putting a shell to our ear to see if we can ‘hear the sea’ is perhaps the earliest experience any of us has of transforming sound artificially, creating a wholly fictitious but nevertheless magical aural impression of the sea. Benllech Shells employs computer technology to much the same end, lending an extraordinary aspect to ordinary and familiar sounds (those of a crowded beach in high summer). It also tries to draw some parallels with the way that memory transforms childhood events — in this case the sights and sounds of the seaside — to create an often fictitious but nevertheless magical impression of the past.


Benllech Shells was realized in the summer 2003 at the Electroacoustic Music Studios of Bangor University (Wales, UK); the 5.1 version was realized in 2007 in the same studios. Benllech Shells premiered on October 30, 2003 in Powis Hall, Bangor University (Wales, UK).


  • October 30, 2003, Concert, Neuadd Powis Hall — Bangor University, Bangor (Wales, UK)